Roundabouts have become a part of life for those who drive in the Ann Arbor region. These unique, often misunderstood landmarks are the subject of much debate, but their overall reduction of traffic injuries and deaths is indisputable. Here are 10 interesting facts about roundabouts:

  1. The first modern roundabouts appeared in the 1960s in the United Kingdom. They first made an appearance in the United States in 1990 in Nevada.
  2. With more than 100 roundabouts, Carmel, Indiana, has claimed the title of roundabout capital of the U.S.
  3. Washtenaw County’s first roundabouts appeared in 2003 near Saline High School at Campus Parkway and Community Drive. Since then, many more have appeared in Ann Arbor and throughout the region.
  4. The roundabout at State Street and Ellsworth Road sees the most car accidents of any intersection in the state of Michigan, according to a report from Mlive. While the intersection has almost twice as many accidents as the second-place intersection, the accidents tend not to be serious. The roundabout did not even rank in the top 10 for intersections with injuries or fatalities.
  5. Roundabouts are not designed to reduce the number of car crashes overall. They are designed to reduce the number injuries and fatalities by preventing serious crashes such as T-bone accidents and head-on collisions. Studies have shown that they are quite effective at accomplishing this goal.
  6. Half of the world’s roundabouts are in France. However, with the rate that they are being built in the Ann Arbor region and throughout the country, the United States is catching up fast.
  7. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, roundabouts are different than neighborhood traffic circles and rotaries, and are characterized by certain features such as counterclockwise flow and entry yield control, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
  8. One study suggests that, although most people oppose roundabouts before they are built, opinions shift in favor of them after they are built and most people end up being in favor of building more.
  9. Roundabouts are environmentally friendly. By allowing traffic to keep moving instead of stopping, fuel use and exhaust are reduced.
  10. Roundabouts do not actually have to be round. Even peanut-shaped roundabouts have proven to be effective.